The Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute

by Elena Brunello
venice basilica salute

The Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute is one of Venice’s landmarks. A huge Roman Catholic church, this building was built after a massive plague epidemic occurred in 1630-31 in the city.

Also known as the Salute, this basilica is part of Venice’s plague churches and the most recent one: the plague churches are a group of temples built to commemorate the ending of the plague and as a votive offering to either the Holy Virgin or Jesus Christ. It stands on the Punta della Dogana a narrow stripe of land in the Dorsoduro Sestiere between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, in an area known as the Saint Mark Basin. In the 17th century, Venice experienced a major outbreak of the plague, which killed nearly a third of the population and thus became known as the Black Death. At the end of the pestilence’s wave, the Venetians decided to build a huge church as a votive offering to the Virgin of Health. Baroque architect Baldassare Longhena was in charge of the project and construction began in 1631. Most of the decorations are a direct reference to the plague. A century earlier, architect Palladio was asked to project the Redentore Church, another plague church built as a votive offer to stop the plague and today set of the world famous Feast of the Redeemer: Venice’s most famous local folklore celebration.

The dome of the Salute Basilica soon became a landmark in the city, being visible from Piazza San Marco. Many artists, among these Turner, Canaletto and Singer Sargent, represented the dome as part of the city’s skyline. Today the Salute held every 21 November the Feast of the Madonna della Salute. A bridge is built on boats on the Grand Canal and thousands of pilgrims cross the water and head to the basilica for a Mass service in gratitude of the ending of the plague. This is still today a very evocative celebration among the Venetians.

tuner venice salute



Mon-Sun 9am-12pm and 3pm-5.30pm


Admission free

Dorsoduro 1, 30123 Venezia

Sestiere of Dorsoduro

WATER BOAT: Vaporetto lines 2, 1 (Salute Stop)

+39 041 274 3928


GPS: 45.4565786,12.354788
Find it on Google Maps


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